Praise God, I’m 6 weeks in at Portage Free Methodist Church. 6 weeks in the book of First John has been great. My favorite part is how the church’s digital sign says:
Thousands of cars drive by the church each day and I can’t help but wonder what those that notice think about it. Christians are saying “oh, I love first John!” and regular people are saying “they only have one bathroom?”
Either way, people are intrigued. Frankly, I think it’s pretty funny. I’ll be sad when it’s not there anymore. Speaking of the next step…
I’m struggling now with how best to “launch” this Fall. It’s not me – it’s a team. But, let’s face it, it’s my job to seek the Lord and get a sense of what He’s telling us to do. It’s an exciting challenge that I wouldn’t exchange for anything. I’m pretty sure that the meat ‘n’ potatoes of the function of the Church is outlined in the Scripture, so that’s a load off. How to be the Church in Portage, given our regional location, unique history, passions and possibilities, is the head scratcher. Philosophy and strategy are two very different things indeed.
My real struggle is in how we communicate who we are without supporting the consumer mentality of the church. Let’s just come out and say it: people church shop for a reason. Do they have what I need? We’ve got Jesus, so the answer is a resounding yes. I think Eugene Peterson says it best and with the utmost bluntness:
“If we are a nation of consumers, obviously the quickest and most effective way to get them into our congregations is to identify what they want and offer it to them, satisfy their fantasies, promise them the moon, recast the gospel in consumer terms: entertainment, satisfaction, excitement, adventure, problem solving, whatever. This is the language we Americans grow up on, the language we understand… There is only one thing wrong: this is not the way in which God brings us into conformity with the life of Jesus and sets us on the way of Jesus’ salvation. This is not the way in which we become less and Jesus becomes more… A consumer church is an antichrist church.”
Wow, Eugene. Preach it.
How do you communicate what a church has to offer without it being a sales pitch? It’s all about the heart and the intent — so true. Perhaps, then, the bigger question is this: why are we offering this stuff? To fulfill the great commission. Right! Jesus didn’t have pamphlets. He had disciples who naturally spread the news. I suppose that we best not think that a 3-color printing will do the same job as personal interaction throughout the week, the kind that says “come and die with us.” That’s discipleship. That’s raw. That’s simple. And it’s not even ours.